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English>>China Society

Better use of air quality reports urged

By Zheng Xin  and Xu Jingxi (China Daily)

09:14, October 25, 2012

Despite marked improvement of the transparency of China's air quality data over the past year, academics and NGOs suggest the government can make better use of real-time air pollution reports.

According to a survey on Chinese cities' air quality transparency - which was conducted by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs from Jan 1 to Aug 31 across 113 cities - the public is now better informed about the condition of the air.

Most cities followed the recommendations of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, which asked 74 cities to apply more comprehensive air quality monitoring standards, including checking levels of PM2.5, ozone and carbonic oxide in the air.

PM2.5 are particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, which can cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

"The gap in air quality transparency between cities in China and other international cities has been greatly reduced over the past year," said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. "However, some cities are still doing poorly with no PM2.5 monitoring stations set up or delayed."

Even cities like Beijing - which has PM2.5 real-time reports - are not fully using the hourly updates to fight pollution, he said.

It's also necessary for the government to come up with an alert system or emergency mechanism for heavy-pollution days, Ma said. The public should be warned against being outdoors on those days, and schools should cancel outdoor activities, he said.

"Authorities should not only release the real-time reports on the Internet, but should also provide more user-friendly and straightforward descriptions of the air quality," said Ma.


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